Hand-drilling miners, Parrot Mine, Butte, Montana

The Richest Hill on Earth

Just west of the Continental Divide at present-day Butte, the mile-high basin caught the attention of 1860s gold miners. While gold was discovered here (along with significant quantities of silver, zinc, and lead), copper turned out to be the most valuable metal hiding inside the hill. By 1896, a mine only five square miles wide was producing more than 25 percent
of the world’s copper supply (and 51 percent of copper in the United States).

According to locals, immigrants coming to the United States were told, “Don’t stop in America; go straight to Butte!”

Battle of the Copper Kings

On November 6, 1894, more than 57,000 ballots were cast to determine Montana Territory’s permanent capital. Marcus Daily, who founded Anaconda, campaigned for his city to become the territory’s headquarters. Meanwhile, William A. Clark, a politician and entrepreneur, championed Helena in the election.

It is estimated that each of these “Copper Kings” spent nearly $3 million in their campaign. Helena won by a slim margin— roughly 2,000 votes.

Life of Luxury
The homes of Marcus Daily and W.A. Clark are popular attractions in their respective communities of Hamilton and Butte. The Daily Mansion contains 25 bedrooms, fifteen bathrooms, and seven fireplaces (five of which include imported Italian marble). It was remodeled several time in order to meet Daily’s liking.

The Clark Mansion (known as the Copper King Mansion) is a 34-room Victorian-style home. This was one of several residences that Clark owned, with others in New York, Santa Barbara, Washington, D.C., Paris, and elsewhere.

Both of these mansions provide tours for visitors and are available for weddings and other occasions.

(It should be noted that the third Copper King, Fritz Augustus Heinze, died in relative poverty.)